This is a legendary cat. The ancient Egyptian Sun-God, Ra (also known as Re) took many forms one of which was a cat. Ra was also depicted as a full-bodied ram, a bull, a lion, a heron, a phoenix and even a serpent. Ra did battle with his arch-enemy Apep, also known as Apopis. Apopis was the God of chaos. He reportedly was said to lie just below the horizon line trying to devour Ra as he travelled through the underworld.
Every night Apopis would lie in wait for Ra with the intention of attacking and killing him to prevent the sun rising. Every night the great cat Ra would defeat Apopis as a snake. Rarely he failed to defeat Apopis and on these occasions there was a solar eclipse.
In the art of ancient Egypt the battle between this legendary cat and chaos in the form of a snake was depicted as shown in the image above. The cat is normally depicted as a mackerel tabby, or as a spotted cat or with a dark plain coat with a white ruff and paws. It is suggested that the latter form might have been a Jungle cat, rather than the usual mackerel tabby cat which was more or less the only domestic cat around at that time.
The picture shows a cat with a long striped tail. This does in fact indicate a tabby cat which makes sense. The coat is plain looking rather like an agouti tabby cat which we see worn by the Abyssinian cat today. The cat has rabbit-like years which is very strange.
In some of the images Ra is seen holding a sharp, pointed knife with a tapered blade which he uses to decapitate the serpent of darkness. The body of the serpent is shown thrown up into vertical coils as if writhing because of the savage attack upon him. The nightly decapitations did not prevent Apopis from regaining his head for the next day. The confrontation between Ra and Apopis goes on for eternity. This is as long as the sun rises in the morning. I guess one day the sun will stop rising but that is in about 5 billion years time when the sun runs out of hydrogen. At that moment Apopis will have won the battle.
P.S. Ra had three daughters one of whom was Bastet. Bastet, as you might know, was depicted as a cat and shown as being gentle and nurturing.
SOME MORE ON THE CATS OF ANCIENT EGYPT:
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